For me, the goal of a D/s relationship has always been about building a long-term connection. After the end of a recent relationship, broken hearted and completely disillusioned, I started to recognize how exhausted I was. Historically, I'd tossed my energy at whatever my whims desired, and these characteristics; charming, successful, witty, charismatic, which usually depleted me of my otherwise healthy self-esteem.
As I mentally leafed through the pages of my relationship history, reflecting on the type that I had chosen, a frightening pattern of similarities emerged. They'd all pursued me with strong initial interest. They were deep and perplexing, enticing since I loved a challenge. Their confident manner was enough to break through my walls of busyness and fear, but their cocky attitudes eventually gave way to their deeply-rooted insecurities. They were engaging and magnetic, extremely smart and articulate. They also had an inability to care about someone for any length of time, or emotionally engage with a relationship in a healthy manner.
They would retreat often, pushing me away, before returning with more promises, sprinkling pretty words all over my tattered heart. I believed them, because there wasn't another option; their behavior was all I knew, and everything I was conditioned to cope with. There was never any consistency.
For years, I'd been under the false assumption that this was "my type." Must be. I always chose it. Only after taking inventory did I recognize that I had agency in that decision. Only I defined and chose my type, my type did not choose me, and I had the power to turn the tides. The one issue? I didn't really know what I was looking for. So after months of trying to reorient myself, I finally asked my friend for help. "What do you think would make me happy?" I asked him one night during a heart-to-heart about relationships, covering both his habits and mine.
His answer was short, to the point. "Super-outgoing and friendly is what I imagine for you, and that's huge, because I feel like you don't go for outgoing people," he said of my brooding M.O. "Mature. Confident. I don't see you with a smooth-talker, more of a legitimately good person."
I went to bed thinking about what he said, letting those seeds start to take root. Legitimately good. Of course I wanted Someone "good." I started to think about what I needed, not what I wanted or was instantly drawn toward, but the qualities that would make me feel safe and supported. I looked for times I felt that way, or saw authentically supportive gestures in real life. I observed the many men who passed through my life, from family members to guy friends, friends' boyfriends to work acquaintances.
I have noted every time my dad opens the car door for my mom. I appreciate the way my friend Mike boosts his girlfriend Jordan's sense of independence during an incredibly busy time in her life. I like the way my best friend's boyfriend makes an effort to engage in her life, with her friends and her interests. I like that one of my guy friends always silently does the right thing simply for the sake of doing it, not because he's going to get anything in return. His yes means yes; he follows through on his word. I warm whenever he notices I am selling myself short or subtly downplaying my accomplishments. It reminds me that I am the sum of my positives, not the essence of my last mistake.
I have taken mental snapshots of all these qualities. The things that would create a stable and positive relationship. These images have slowly started to replace all the old memories, the flashes of hurt, the anger so hot it had branded me a victim of my own unconscious decisions.
In the past, I hadn't chosen my type, but I'd allowed my type to choose me. Time and again. Everyone tells me that I need to find Someone that is confident, but it took me years to understand what that looks like. In reality, confidence is quiet. You have to open your eyes and acknowledge it. It does not beg for attention, and it won't settle for less than it deserves. It does not prey on anyone, or put another person down. It is always positive energy. And it's not easy to find, especially if you've spiraled into a cycle of inviting narcissists into your life who bleed you dry and forced you to keep putting your walls back up.
Walls exist for a reason. I've noted that with my past relationships, part of those walls never really crumbled. You have to ask yourself about someone who always comments on the walls and blockades you put up. Are you just the next challenge? What are their motives for breaking them down, and why are your walls still so high months after meeting?
Sometimes, it's instinctually unsafe to let your guard down. I think we are predisposed to place walls in front of the people who would hurt us. Putting yourself out there is always a gamble, but take note of those that literally scare all your senses. Sure, it's a rush. But your walls will never fall. These people will toss grenades from afar, haphazardly amassing damage as they force their way into your life, your heart. A healthy relationship won't follow
I'm looking for Someone who creates an atmosphere where it's OK to let my walls down. It'll be quiet, less emotional, and probably a whole lot more fulfilling in the long run.
I'm more than willing to wait for the Someone who quietly brings positive energy into my world. I may not know what He looks like, but this time, I'll know exactly how His presence in my life will feel: calm, peaceful, and safe.